LAS VEGAS — Tyler Reddick earned his third Busch Light Pole Award of the season Saturday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet will lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 playoff race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The 26-year-old Californian’s lap of 184.603 mph knocked fellow Chevy driver William Byron from the pole position and then Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric finished the session by grabbing the outside pole position on the final qualifying lap of the 10 cars that advanced to the second round.
Reddick also topped qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then at Texas Motor Speedway just three weeks ago. The three pole-tally is a career-best for the third-year Cup Series driver. Only hours before qualifying, Reddick was named to drive the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota next year.
“It’s pretty awesome,” a smiling Reddick said of the day’s work.
Interestingly, in the 29 races held to date at the track, no driver has ever won the Las Vegas race starting from the pole position. Kyle Busch was the race winner and pole winner in 2009, but technically he did not actually start from pole position, having to move to the rear of the starting grid after an engine change.
Asked about the difficulty of turning a pole position into a win here, Reddick was surprised to learn the statistic as well.
“Hopefully we’ll change that tomorrow,” said Reddick, who did win a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas in 2019.
“I think the track just changes a lot from practice to qualifying,” Reddick added, “For us, when we’ve started on the pole or we started toward the front on these mile-and-a-halves, we’ve had a lot of speed and we just unfortunately had some things not go our way.”
Byron will start third, alongside Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who boasted the fastest lap in practice. Blaney’s teammate Joey Logano, Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, Wood Brothers’ Harrison Burton, 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace and Reddick’s RCR teammate Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10 on the starting grid. Burton matches his best starting position ever at a non-superspeedway and highest any track since the 2022 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Only four of the eight playoff contenders – Byron, Blaney, Logano and Bell – advanced into the final round of qualifying. The other four playoff drivers will start a bit farther back, including Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, who will roll off 11th. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe starts 16th with 2020 champion Chase Elliott 20th and JGR’s Denny. Hamlin, 31st in the 36-car field.
Brad Keselowski, who leads all current drivers with three Vegas victories, will start the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford from 25th.
Ryan Blaney set the tone in Saturday’s split practice session, running the most laps and logging the fastest speed of anyone in the field. Blaney’s 31-lap session topped out at 183.517 mph at a best time of 29.425 seconds around the 1.5-mile circuit. Ross Chastain, who led a race-high 83 laps in the spring race, sprinted to second on the board, trailing Blaney by 0.027 seconds. Erik Jones ( 29.453 seconds), AJ Allmendinger (29.511 seconds) and Austin Cindric (29.527 seconds) rounded out the top five.
RELATED: Practice results
Led by Kyle Busch in 12th, the Toyota brigade seemed to be slightly off the pace. Busch was nearly three-tenths of a second off Blaney, followed closely by race favorite Denny Hamlin in 13th and Bubba Wallace in 14th. Neither of the three cracked the top 15 when it came to the 10-lap average.
Christopher Bell finished lowest of the Round of 8 on the overall practice leaderboard, slotting in 26th, over 0.5 seconds off the top mark.
There were no major incidents in practice.
Contributing: Staff reports